Sunday, January 28, 2024
Tools don’t build a business but tools can help you get your financial coaching business running faster and more efficiently. There are a practically infinite number of tools that companies will try to sell you but almost all of them can be safely ignored until your business reaches a larger scale (dozens of employees).
One mistake is prematurely optimizing your business by spending your time and money on courses and software you don’t need. Start with the basics. They will take you far.
Often financial coaches starting out by using their personal Gmail address and that is fine for when you are getting your first clients via referrals. Once you start doing outreach to strangers on the Internet (or hopefully getting inbound inquiries from your coaching website) then it will look more professional to have a custom domain. You should be able to get a custom domain for a year for about $20 and can use Zoho for email hosting for $1/month. However, I would recommend just paying Google $6/month for email hosting as the calendar works better when sending calendar invites. (The cost also includes Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.)
I live and die by my calendar. Organization is important for the people whose personal finances you are helping to improve. It needs to be important for you as well. Missing a meeting because you were unorganized will cause your clients to lose trust in you.
Google Workspace and Office 365 would be my choice for calendars as they are seamlessly integrated with Gmail and Outlook. You can use Calendar with iCloud as well. Even a paper calendar can work but won’t integrate with the scheduling software we will talk about in a bit.
You can start with some Excel templates. Those can be as simple or as complex as you can imagine. For clients with simpler needs, these are all you need. As your client base grows, and you get clients with more complex finances, then you will find yourself looking for software that has more features or is more scalable.
Wallet1000 provides financial plans as well as a financial coaching CRM that allows you to quickly service and follow-up with clients as your practice grows. eMoney and MoneyGuidePro are good choices for clients with many accounts, assets classes, and trusts.
I keep my business and personal life separate. That means separate bank accounts, separate email addresses, and separate phone numbers.
Google Voice is one way to get a secondary phone number for your business. Zoom, if you use it for meeting with clients, is another option. OpenPhone is a nice option where you can an app on your phone that has it’s own phone number, text messaging, and ringtone.
Thanks to COVID, many of us are comfortable–and may even prefer–taking our meetings virtually rather than in-person. Even if you do in-person meetings, it is good to have a solution in place for the possibility that a client may want their next meeting to be virtual as something unexpectedly changed their schedule.
Apple Facetime and Google Chat both provide quick ways to have a video meeting with a client. Zoom is the tool of choice for many professionals.
Create a few practice meetings with friends or family to make sure you are comfortable using your software. You don’t want to waste five minutes of your client’s time trying to figure out why they can’t see you or you can’t see their screen when they share it with you.
Juggling our personal obligations can be difficult. Life is busy. It is the same for your clients. Scheduling software allows you to connect your personal and work calendar together and then offer time slots that your clients and prospects can sign up for. The software provides you a link that you can share via email or text. Your clients pick the time that works best for them and it is added to both your’s and your client’s calendars. They will even get email or text message reminders.
Getting paid is critical and can be surprisingly complicated. You could create invoices and send them to your clients and ask that they remit payment by check. Or you can pay around 3% of your revenue and use a third-party service that will allow your client to pay by credit card and for you to get the money automatically deposited into your account–removing any unnecessary trips to the post office or bank.
Stripe can do both recurring payments and single invoices. You generate a payment link that you provide your client. They pay. Money is held for a few days and then directly deposited to your bank account
Few people enjoy the more mundane aspects of running a business such as bookkeeping and taxes. However, I challenge you to embrace them. While boring, they can help you remember that you are running a business rather than a business being the cumbersome necessity for financial coaching. It provides a different frame of mind.
You can use a spreadsheet to track expenses that you eventually hand off to an accountant or you can use software such as Xero or Quickbooks to generate the profit and loss statements and balance sheet needed for filing your business taxes. Even as your business grows, you don’t want to stray too far away from the financial statements.
Eventually you will want to track your meetings, emails, and notes with your clients. If you are just starting out then you should absolutely reach for your current note taking tool whether that be Google Docs or a physical notebook. However, as your client list grows a CRM will help you scale by providing reporting, automatic email archiving, and automated follow up.
Salesforce is an enterprise tool and can be overkill for a small business. Wealthbox is an option that many financial advisors use. Wallet1000 also has a CRM built-in for you to use.
Your focus on, and commitment to, your clients is what is most important for building your business. Having the right set of tools in place will help you provide them the best experience.